Blog: Reflecting on our Leadership Programme Pilot

As we say congratulations to a freshly graduated cohort of our Leadership Programme, the first of its kind at Fair4All Finance, our Growth and Development Programme Manager Laura Kaye reflects on the pilot and what’s coming next.

At the beginning of November, sixteen leaders from across the community finance sector joined us at the University of Cambridge for the launch of our Leadership Learning Programme Pilot. We developed this pilot with input from our stakeholders to further support the growth of capabilities within the community finance sector.

With input and feedback from our stakeholder consultation with the community finance sector, and in partnership with Estu and Studious, we designed a six week programme delivered by academics, community finance experts and leading professionals through a series of in person and online sessions and self led digital learning.

What did the pilot cover?

The pilot focused on strategic planning and change, including key concepts of sustainable leadership, strategy development and how change can be delivered effectively.

We kicked off day one in Cambridge by looking at transformational leadership and driving change in community finance organisations. We were reminded that just because community finance does good, that isn’t an excuse for not being good or delivering at a high standard.

In our first online session we looked at talent management and culture. Leaders were encouraged to create a culture manifesto to really focus in on the values and behaviours that will help their community finance organisation to achieve their goals. This was followed by a session on proposition development, where we discussed innovation coming from all levels of an organisation and that a key part of successful innovation is failure.

At our second day in Cambridge, the focus was on strategy and several leaders were keen to apply the McKinsey 7-S model to their organisation to support in strategic planning and organisational effectiveness.

In our final couple of online sessions, we looked at business sustainability and how businesses rarely thrive by accident – with strategic planning being key to ensuring organisations deliver on their mission. We wrapped up the six weeks of sessions by thinking about what to do when things go wrong and the importance of strong governance and risk management. 

Why did we run a leadership learning pilot? 

There are 17.5m people in financially vulnerable circumstances in the UK and the current financial service system isn’t working for everyone. Millions are excluded without access to the right products and services that they need.

At Fair4All Finance we are committed to making the financial services system fairer. We developed this pilot learning programme with input from the sector, to help grow the sector’s capabilities and support leaders of community finance organisations to deliver towards their goals.

The pilot tested the leadership programme so we can learn what works, what doesn’t and how we can best design any further learning programmes.

What did our participants say?

The feedback from participants on the programme has been overwhelmingly positive. Here what a few of the participants had to say:

‘The course in Cambridge went very well I think and might well prove to be one of Fair4All’s best investments of all – the leadership challenge is very real and this feels as though it’s a valuable way of addressing it. Hopefully the work can be extended and further developed.’

‘The day was brilliant from start to finish. Presentations were engaging, informative and inspiring. Also made some good contacts through networking.’

‘It’s a chance to learn a lot about leadership. It’s a chance to hear the experience from other organisations. It’s also a chance to do incredible networking. And all of those three things together are a really powerful combination.’

What’s next?

Following on from the success of the pilot we are excited to announce we will be running a second programme in early 2024, with a focus on marketing and customer insights. We will continue to build on the lessons learned from the pilot and look forward to sharing more information on this second programme with you in the new year. 

If you’re interested in our second programme, you can register your interest with Laura Kaye at

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